Reliable energy backup systems offer peace of mind and protection against power outages. And as battery technology improves, many people are adding energy storage to their solar energy systems vs using a traditional generator.
However, the amount of solar electricity these batteries can store at one time is finite. Solar battery owners need a way to control which appliances draw from the battery and when. That’s where smart electrical panels come into play.
What Is a Smart Electrical Panel?
Smart electrical panels allow you to easily control which appliances and devices (AKA loads) receive electricity. Some of these panels will replace your current electrical panel, and others are installed in addition to your standard panel.
Instead of worrying about manually toggling specific circuits as you would on a standard panel, the smart panel allows you the freedom to control your devices using a mobile app. Many brands even integrate with popular smart speakers, allowing you to turn on and off circuits with voice control.
Another benefit of investing in smart panels is the ability to go completely hands-free by programming specific circuits to turn on and off at certain times. This technology, paired with the use of voice control and access to the mobile app can help cut back on energy consumption.
The ability to quickly and remotely turn off circuits can help with cutting back on energy consumption and managing phantom loads, which are appliances and devices that drain electricity even when they’re turned off. Smart panels can also be useful when you’re out of town or away from your home for long periods.
Using Smart Electrical Panels to Manage Loads For Solar Batteries
In truth, the cost to install a large enough battery system to back up an entire home is high. Instead, you’ll have to be selective with the appliances and devices that draw from the batteries.
In the past, most battery-backed-up loads would be on a separate panel of circuits. In the event of a power outage, these circuits automatically switch to the battery system. However, changing the appliances and devices connected to this circuit couldn’t be done quickly or easily.
But now, solar system owners are opting for smart electrical panels to support their battery-backed systems. These allow you to select and change your backed-up loads with ease.
For example, your 9.8 kWh battery may only be able to provide backup power for your entire home for a few minutes. But with your smart electrical panel app, you can quickly shut off electricity to loads you don’t need, allowing you to run the ones you do for much longer.
They also give you the freedom to adjust loads quickly and efficiently, so you can switch devices and appliances as your needs change. This can come in handy during longer outages.
You may start with several loads drawing energy from your battery system, but as the outage extends and your battery bank gets depleted, you can choose which items to drop, saving more energy for the truly essential loads.
Additionally, smart electrical panels can act like a solar battery management system, showing relevant metrics in real-time. These include how much energy the battery has left, how long it will last, and more.
The Best Smart Electrical Panels: Lumin Panel vs. SPAN Panel
There are several different brands of smart electrical panels on the market. Two leading products are the Lumin Smart Electrical Panel and the SPAN Smart Electrical Panel. While both offer around-the-clock remote control over your electrical loads, there are some key differences.
Lumin smart panels are installed next to your main breaker panel. They will intercept some of your circuits, allowing you to control these loads with the Lumin app. The SPAN panel will replace your main breaker panel and provides remote control over all of your loads.
With installation costs, a Lumin will likely cost between $3,000 and $3,500, whereas a SPAN will cost upwards of $5,000. Because a SPAN replaces your main electrical panel, it’s a more complex product that takes more time and expertise to install. That said, it offers control over all the electrical loads in your houses, whereas the Lumin limits you to certain circuits.
Both the Lumin and SPAN come with a ten-year limited warranty. However, the consensus is that these panels will last up to 40 years or more.
Are Smart Electrical Panels Worth The Money?
Adding a smart electrical panel to your energy storage system will add a few thousand dollars to your project’s budget. But in return, you’ll get more control over your electrical loads.
If your budget can accommodate it, smart panels are a great addition to your home’s solar energy storage system.